Thursday 27th September 2001, Matauri Bay NZ

We slept in until 9am. It was a beautiful day, so we just lazed around and read for most of the morning. (We also rang Goat Island Dive, as we realised we would not be back in time to dive with them tomorrow.) We used the campsite manager’s telephone line to set up iHug, our new ISP. (It took ages, and she got quite annoyed …)

We were booked to dive at 2.30pm, but Gary Gillbanks eventually turned up at 4pm due to ‘other commitments’. We then had to wait for another couple to arrive – by which time it was 4.30pm. Gary sorted out the hired gear, including 7mm wetsuits for us. (The water temperature was is about 16 degrees at this time of year. Too cold for our own 3mm suits.) We all climbed into his trailered boat, and were towed down to the water’s edge.

John and Gary pushed the boat into deeper water, and Gary fired up the twin outboard motors. Well, he would have done, but one of the batteries was flat … Back to the shore then, for a pair of jump leads. Soon we were on our way.

10 minutes out from shore, the other couple began to look nervously around for their weight-belts. Ah! Back to the shore again …

At last, with sunset fast approaching, we arrived at the dive site. This was to be Brigid’s first dive since the four compulsory Open Water ‘check-out’ dives in Hawaii, and the wreck lies at a depth of 25m.

Gary helped us into our gear, and, one-by-one, we inflated our BCDs, and rolled off the back of the boat into the cold water. Brigid’s inflator valve stuck open, which was not the best of starts and when, at last, she did make it into the water, she was less than impressed to be handed a pair of naff yellow and green gardening gloves to protect her hands. Her nerves were then tested to the limit by Gary’s helpful attempt to speed her descent. As she emptied the air from her BCD, she could feel something or somebody tugging her under. Attempting to free herself, she gave whatever it was an almighty kick. She re-surfaced, spluttering, followed by a rather embarrassed and apologetic Gary.

After the false start, the dive itself was fascinating. The wreck has quickly become home to a multitude of marine life. Giant crayfish lurk in one of the holds, and the original colours of the hull are now all but vanished under coral and weed. We swam through shoals of small fish into the bowels of the ship, where an air pocket allowed us to ‘surface’ and talk to each other, 25m underwater!

It was quite dark by the time we got back, so we ate the remains of last night’s spaghetti, and got an early night.